In a recent issue, we highlighted an SA definition from the U.S. Coast Guard: “Situational awareness is the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regards to the mission. More simply, it’s knowing what is going on around you.” (emphasis in the original). The graphic at right is adapted from work by Dr. Mica Endsley and resembles Col. John Boyd’s OODA Loop we’ve described in the past.
One of the keys to understanding either description is acknowledging that SA has both a temporal and a spatial component. Our SA changes over time as a result of our actions, task characteristics and the evolving environment. Spatially locating activities and events occurring or about to occur around us also is key. Both components allow us to project what happens next.